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of men, and spake the words of God with full authority, and wrought miracles of all kinds, at all times, whenever he pleased, and had the knowledge of all things; even the thoughts and characters of men, and things at a distance, and things to come.
With regard to this it is, that St Paul says of our Lord, that he "was in the form of God," Philip. ii. 6. Which also answers to those expressions: "The brightness of the divine glory," or majesty, "and the express image of his person." Heb. i. 3.
This consecration, this sanctification of Jesus, this plentiful communication of the gifts of the Spirit to him, is sometimes expressed by anointing, and answers to the character of Messiah. So Acts iv. 27. "For of a truth against thy holy child," or servant, "Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate,-were gathered together." And Acts x. 37, 38. "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. For God was with him."
Thus Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his having the Spirit without measure. And. hence we see the reason, why the Christ, or the Messiah, and the Son of God, are equivalent expressions. That they are so, is evident from divers texts. John i. 34. John the Baptist says:: "And I saw, and bare record, that this is the Son of God." And, as it follows in the same context, two of John's disciples heard the testimony, which he bore to Jesus. "One of those two was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him: We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ:" or the anointed, and is plainly equivalent to what John the Baptist said: "this is the Son of God." Afterwards "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him: We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." When Nathanael is convinced of the same thing, how does he express himself? It is in this manner: "Rabbi, thou art the Son: of God, thou art the king of Israel:" two expressions, equivalent to that of Messiah.
The great article of faith in Jesus is sometimes expressed by believing him to be the Christ, at other times believing him to be the Son of God. John iv. 25, 26. "The woman saith unto him: I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ. When he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her: I that speak unto thee, am he:" or the Christ. Our Lord meeting the man, whom he had cured of blindness, says to him, John ix. 35, 36, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said: Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him: Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." Once morė, 1 John v. 1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God" Then at ver. 5, "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" To all which texts let me add here one or two more. Matt. xii. 17, 18. "That it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying: Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles." And what follows, taken from Isa. xlii. 1-4. And Heb. i. 8, 9. "But unto the Son he saith:-Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
3. Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his resurrection from the dead, on the third day, so as to die no more.
So the apostle says. Rom. i. 3. 4, “ Rom. i. 3. 4, "Concerning his son Jesus Christ, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Col. i. 18. "Who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." Heb. i. 6. "And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world he saith: And let all the angels of God worship him." Which indeed some have understood of our Lord's coming into the world at his nativity. But more generally interpreters have understood it of our Lord's entering into his glory, and taking possession of his kingdom, after his resurrection from the dead. Which brings us to one thing more.
4. Jesus is the Son of God, on account of his exaltation to God's right hand, and being invested with authority and dominion over all flesh, and constituted the judge of the world, by whom God will pass sentence upon all mankind.
John iii. 35. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hands." Ch. v. 21, 22. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father."
Philip. ii. 9, 10. “Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which
is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." Eph. i. 19, 20. "According to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." Heb. i. 2. "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has made heir," or Lord, "of all things." Ch. iii. 5, 6. "Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant.But Christ as a son over his own house."
Some now by the Son of God understand an intelligent being, or emanation, begotten by the Father in an ineffable manner from all eternity, and of the same essence or substance with the Father. Others, a mighty spirit or angel, begotten or formed by the will of the Father, in time, before the creation of the world, and of a different substance from the Father. Which Son of God, eternally begotten, or in time, became incarnate; that is, united himself to the human nature, consisting of soul and body, or to human flesh, so as to supply the place of a human soul.
But it does not appear to be any where used in that sense in the gospels, where it frequently occurs. We find it in the professions some made of their faith in him, or their acknowledgments, of the great character which he sustained, and which they supposed he had fully proved by the great works wrought by him, and the demonstrations of wonderful knowledge.
Simon Peter's confession before taken notice of, for which he was so much applauded, as recorded in Matt. xvi. 16, is: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." That this confession implies an acknowledgment of his Master's being the Messiah, the great person who was to come, according to the predictions of the prophets, is manifest from the sequel. For hereupon, our Lord not judging it prudent that the disciples should as yet, with all their prejudices about them, declare that character every where: "charged them that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ," ver. 20; with which agrees the account in Mark viii. 29, 80. "But whom say ye that I am? and Peter answered, and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him:" that is, that they should not publish that. their persuasion concerning him to others. To the like purpose in Luke ix. 20, 21. "He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering, said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing."
Persons possessed by dæmons likewise bore their testimony to Jesus, that he was the Son of God, plainly intending thereby, that he was the Christ. Luke iv. 41. "And dæmons came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them, suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was the Christ." The same must be the meaning of all others who make the same confession.
All these persons, then, when they confessed Jesus to be the Son of God, meant no more than that he was the Christ. And if this be the meaning of the phrase in the gospels, it is likely to be the meaning of it in the epistles.
But by the Christ, or Messiah, the Jewish people meant a man, who had the Spirit without measure, or in a greater measure than any of the prophets: a man, endowed from above with power, wisdom and understanding superior to all others, knowing the whole will of God, and appointed by the Father to reveal it, and capable of accomplishing all the great designs for which he should be sent.
II. I am now to shew in the second place the design of this message of Christ to his disciples, and in what sense God is also their and our God and Father. "Go to my disciples, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
1. The meaning of these words is this: I am now about to leave this earth, and am going to heaven, the place of the more especial presence and residence of God, and where are the brightest manifestations of his glory.' This, I say, appears to be the obvious and direct sense of the words, that Jesus was now shortly to ascend to the blessed abode, the regions of the heavenly world.
2. Our Lord intends by this message to his disciples, to carry their thoughts to the things of another world, even to things spiritual and heavenly.
Upon our Lord's revival, and coming again among them, their fond expectations of a kingdom in this world might again take place. But our Lord, before he shews himself to them (as he necessarily must do to give them evidences of his resurrection) desires to prevent such low conceptions and false imaginations.
Whither he went, or was to go, was a question that had been often started in the course of his ministry: and it was a tender and affecting point. If he had left Judea, provided he would have set up a kingdom and government full of splendour, ease and riches, men would have followed him, though to the greatest distance. To have left the land of Israel, to go and teach Gentiles, and Jews dispersed among Gentiles, in the same way that he had taught men in Judea, would have been offensive and disagreeable to many. But for him, who took upon himself the character of the Messiah, to speak of leaving this earth, and be no longer visible here, was exceeding discouraging; for it overthrew all hopes of a life in worldly ease and prosperity under him; which had been the expectation of carnal minds.
Let us observe the passages of St. John's gospel, where this enquiry appears; and we shall find, that our Lord himself gave occasion to it, and endeavoured by what he said of his going away, to destroy that expectation which was so prejudicial to just sentiments concerning himself and the things of religion.
John vii. 32-36. "The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him: and the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to take him. Then said Jesus unto them: Yet a little while I am with you: and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? What manner of saying is this that he said: Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come ?"
And ch. viii. 20-23. "These things spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple -Then said Jesus again unto them: I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins. Whither I go ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath. I am from above. Ye are of this world. I am not of this world."
Ch. xiii. 33. "Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me. And as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye cannot come: so now say I unto you."-Ver.36. "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards."
Ch. xiv. 1-6. "Let not your hearts be troubled.-In my Father's house are many mansions. -I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also: and whither I go, ye know: and the way you know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest: and how can we know the way?" Such was their remaining ignorance, occasioned by the prejudices which they laboured under. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life:" and what there follows.
Once more, ch. xvi. 5, 6. "But now I go my way unto him that sent me: and none of you asketh me, whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart." They had sometimes before put that question to him. But they did not yet fully comprehend his answers. And it would have been agreeable to him, if they had now given him occasion to speak again of the place whither he was going; especially if they had by their inquiries manifested an increase of knowledge, and a growing esteem and affection for heavenly things.
This message therefore our Lord sends to his disciples immediately after his resurrection, before he shewed himself personally to any of them. I am indeed risen from the dead. I who ' was dead, am alive again. But let not therefore any fond thoughts arise in the minds of any of 'you. I am soon to leave this world, and go to him that sent me, as I often told you formerly. "I ascend to my Father, and your Father: to my God, and your God."
This message was altogether worthy of our Lord. And it was exceedingly suited to produce a serious and attentive frame in the minds of his disciples, and to carry their thoughts from the things of this world, however engaging to those of another.
3. Our blessed Lord intended by this message to comfort and strengthen his disciples by assurances of a like glory and happiness with what was allotted to himself.
"I go to my Father," says he," and to your Father, to my God, and your God." I am raised up to life. So likewise shall all they be in due time who believe in me, and follow, and obey me. To all such the Father will by me give eternal life.'
Our Lord proved a resurrection to the Pharisees from God's having called himself "the God of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob."
Our Lord had been now declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection. Herein God had shewn himself a Father to him. He here says to his disciples, that God is not only his God and Father, but theirs also. Thereby he assures them of a resurrection to life, to die no more, and of their partaking of glory and happiness like his. Then their sonship, and God's fatherly love and care for them, will be manifest. So says our Lord. "Neither can they die any more. For they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection," Luke xx. 36.
Whilst our Lord was yet with the disciples, and before he took his leave of them, he said: "I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself: that where I am, there ye may be also," John xiv. 2, 3; and afterwards, ver. 19. "Because I live, ye shall live also."
Thus we see at once how God is not only the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also how he is the God and Father of his disciples and people. He is the Son of God, and God is his Father, in a sense peculiar to himself. He is their elder brother, and the first-born from the dead, and has in all things the pre-eminence. They likewise are dear to God, as children they have been born of God, they are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. And they have an inheritance. It is in the heavenly mansions of their Father's house with Christ, who is their head and Lord.
4. In this message to the disciples our Lord might intend to encourage their expectation of the fulfilment of the promise of the gift of the Spirit, to enlighten them, and qualify them for the difficult work to which he had called and appointed them: a thing which he had oftenspoken of, especially when he discoursed of his leaving them. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is expedient that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter will not come. But if I depart I will send him unto you," John xvi. 7, 8.
APPLICATION. I shall add a thought or two by way of reflection.
Admirable are the condescension and the goodness of the Lord Jesus. "Go to my brethren, and say unto them: I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God.
Jesus is risen from the dead to die no more. He nevertheless calls his disciples, as yet in a state of affliction and trial, brethren. They had accompanied him in his temptation. And he still calls them brethren. We therefore need not scruple to esteem and call them our brethren, who in some respects are inferior to us.
The goodness of Jesus is also very admirable. The disciples had lately failed in their regard to him, and left him alone in his hour of disgrace. Nevertheless, when risen from the dead, and death hai no longer any power over him, nor are any of the afflictions of this life able to reach him, he sends them this message full of affection and tenderness. It is not a threatening, it is not an upbraiding message, but encouraging and cheering.
We should not abuse his goodness. But if we are sincere, let us hope that Jesus, who knows all things, will not reject us for unallowed failings and neglects.
And let us also be willing to own others for our brethren, who are not perfect, but are defective, and fail, though sincere, in an hour of temptation: and let us do what we can to strengthen and comfort them.
CHRIST'S POVERTY OUR RICHES.
know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. viii. 9.
HESE words lie among divers arguments, which the apostle offers to the Corinthians, to induce them to a liberal contribution for the relief of the poor saints in Judea. And these words may be considered as containing an argument to generosity therein. Or, whilst they contain indeed
a very powerful motive to liberality, and to every good work, they may be considered as exhibiting to these Christians a reason why the apostle need not press their liberality to the utmost, by the use of many arguments, they being already acquainted with a very forcible inducement. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."
However, it is not my design at this time to consider the words, particularly with regard to their connection, or to excite your liberality to any contribution. I now treat of them, as a remarkable and distinguished part of the portion of scripture read this morning in our ordinary course, and as likely to furnish meditations suitable to the solemnity of the Lord's supper to be this day administered among us.
In the words are several things observable.
I. The riches of Christ.
II. His poverty.
III. The moving cause and consideration of his "becoming poor," which was our benefit: or "that by his poverty we might be rich."
IV. How Christ's poverty conduces to our riches.
V. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in becoming poor, that we might be rich."
I. In the first place we are to observe the riches of Christ. Hereby is meant the great dig nity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the mighty power which he was possessed of, and his command over all things. In a text very parallel with this the apostle speaks of Christ being "in the form of God," Philip. ii. 6. In another place he says, " in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," Col. ii. 9; that is, really; not as in the temple of old at Jerusalem, in a bright flame, or resplendent glory, a visible outward symbol of the divine presence. But in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Deity really. He has divine knowledge, wisdom and power. In Matt. i. 23, is applied to Jesus the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the birth of a child, of whom it was foretold: "they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us." And St. John at the beginning of his gospel says: "The Word was made flesh," or took human nature," and dwelled among us. And we saw his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
This is great riches. Let us also observe some of the proofs hereof. They are very evident in the life of Jesus. In him appeared the knowledge of all things, of the thoughts and designs of men, things done formerly, in private, and things future. He had likewise all power for healing diseases, raising the dead, and for restraining his enemies when he saw fit. He commanded the winds and the waves, and they obeyed him. He multiplied small provisions for the supply of great multitudes: and he spake as man never spake, with perspicuity and true sublimity, to the admiration of the people, to the conviction of some of his enemies, and the surprise of others of them.
II. The next particular is our Lord's poverty." He became poor." In this expression two things are implied': first that he was poor, and then, that he was so willingly, and with his own
First, Jesus Christ was poor. Hereby is meant by the apostle not only the being destitute of a large patrimony, or plentiful income, and many accommodations, but all the mean circumstances of our Lord's outward condition.
However, he was poor in the literal sense of the word. He descended from the family of David, when it was in a low estate; and when he appeared in his public character, he had no settled habitation of his own. When one of the Jewish scribes came to him, making an offer to follow him whithersoever he went, our Lord recommended to him to consider the consequence of such a resolution; for, says he, "the Son of man hath not where to lay his head," Matt. viii. 20. There are many evidences of our Lord's poverty; for he subsisted chiefly by the contributions of a few zealous friends and followers. When they came to him for the tribute-money, or the annual offering for the use of the temple at Jerusalem, he seems not to have had of his own wherewith to pay it; and therefore rather than give offence by not paying it, he wrought a miracle for a supply.
But by the poverty mentioned in the text, we are farther to understand all the many sufferings and inconveniences to which our Lord was exposed in this world, as a person in mean circumstances: the ingratitude of some, whom he had obliged by very valuable benefits, the neglect of many, who pay regard not to merit, but to wealth and outward show and appear,